"Nay, nay, cheer thee!
Were I through three descents threefold a slave,
My shame would not touch thee.
Jocasta. I do implore thee,
This once obey me - this once.
Oedipus I will not!
To truth I grope my way.
Jocasta. And yet what love
Speaks in my voice! Thine ignorance is thy bliss.
Oedipus. A bliss that tortures!
Jocasta. Miserable man!
Oh couldst thou never learn the thing thou art!
Oedipus. Will no one quicken this slow herdsman's steps
The unquestioned birthright of a royal name
Let this proud queen possess!
Jocasta. Wo! wo! thou wretch!
Wo! my last word! - words are no more for me!"
With this Jocasta rushes from the scene. Still Oedipus misconstrues her warning; he ascribes her fears to the royalty of her spirit. For himself, Fortune was his mother, and had blessed him; nor could the accident of birth destroy his inheritance from nature. The chorus give way to their hopes! their wise, their glorious Oedipus might have been born a Theban! The herdsman enters: like Tiresias, he is loath to speak. The fiery king extorts his secret. Oedipus is the son of Laius and Jocasta - at his birth the terrible prophecies of the Pythian induced his own mother to expose him on the mountains - the compassion of the herdsman saved him - saved him to become the bridegroom of his mother, the assassin of his sire. The astonishing art with which, from step to step, the audience and the victim are led to the climax of the discovery, is productive of an interest of pathos and of terror which is not equalled by the greatest masterpieces of the modern stage , and possesses that species of anxious excitement which is wholly unparalleled in the ancient. The discovery is a true catastrophe - the physical denouement is but an adjunct to the moral one. Jocasta, on quitting the scene, had passed straight to the bridal-chamber, and there, by the couch from which had sprung a double and accursed progeny, perished by her own hands. Meanwhile, the predestined parricide, bursting into the chamber, beheld, as the last object on earth, the corpse of his wife and mother! Once more Oedipus reappears, barred for ever from the light of day. In the fury of his remorse, he "had smote the balls of his own eyes," and the wise baffler of the sphinx, Oedipus, the haughty, the insolent, the illustrious, is a forlorn and despairing outcast. But amid all the horror of the concluding scene, a beautiful and softening light breaks forth. Blind, powerless, excommunicated, Creon, whom Oedipus accused of murder, has now become his judge and his master. The great spirit, crushed beneath its intolerable woes, is humbled to the dust; and the "wisest of mankind" implores but two favours - to be thrust from the land an exile, and once more to embrace his children. Even in translation the exquisite tenderness of this passage cannot altogether fail of its effect.